Thursday, January 31, 2013


Cupcake's eyes are blue, too!

I'm sort of worried about her, though. She was so skinny to begin with, and she's not gaining at all. We've brought her inside the garage so I can get her onto the bottle at least part time. Need to make sure she's getting some volume of milk, although we've seen her successfully nursing. Her little tummy isn't all fat and happy and she just looks . . . off. We have a nursery area set up in the garage in a stock tank with nice straw, and the two little ones will sleep there overnights from here on out, bottlefeed in the morning and milk out the goats, then they'll be with their mamas all day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We Were Right, She’s a Big One

We brought the new doe in this afternoon to weigh, and she’s 5 1/2 pounds at less than 24 hours old! That’s big for a Nigerian, and especially strange since Selkie didn’t look pregnant even, while Sarabi who looked large enough to have two or three in there had a 3 pound baby. And she’s so bony and skinny, too, that I’m wondering if she won’t be a big girl when she grows up.




We wanted to get the babies together to explore without their jealous mamas involved. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled with the noise that ensued. But inside, all was cuteness, and it was fun to see the color difference side by side!




And, as threatened this morning, I’m waving a flag of surrender on names and letting others have naming rights on this one. The Patriarch was quite insistent on his choice. If you know him, you know he’s a guy who would be happy on a desert island as long as he had Jamaican food, reggae, and a steady stream of ESPN, so his repeated “has Cupcake been born yet? How’s Cupcake” is the equivalent of a NFL linebacker wanting to name a puppy “Sparkly Twinkle Fairy Dust”. But “Cupcake” it is, and Lucinda’s steady lobbying for “Pearl” has also worn me down.

Meet Herb of Grace BluPearl Cupcake:


Déjà vu

Another Tuesday, another medical appointment, another goat with ligaments gone and an “udder boom”.

I didn’t cancel this appointment – it was another biopsy – and Selkie thankfully didn’t deliver while I was gone.

But she did deliver around 11pm.

Another single doe.

And to my amazement, the little doe seemed at first to be a twin to Butternut!


This morning the better light reveals differences. This little girl is brown-eyed and while she has some of the gold that Butternut has, now that she’s dry her appearance is more of an all-over cream rather than spotted like Butternut.


This birth wasn’t quite as straightforward, as hooves weren’t presenting, which is the preferred birth position. I had to play James Herriot and “go in” although in a very minor and simple way. The hooves were immediately available, just tangled up a bit. I won’t get too graphic – just felt like a little baby step in learning and everything worked well. I had been a bit worried that the Versed wouldn’t have worn off enough, and if my biopsy had been later in the day, I don’t know what would have happened.

We’re debating names again. I might just scoop off a couple of the more adamant among the name-suggesters, we’ll see. I was pondering incorporating “Blue” somewhere in her name, since many an offspring of Blue Delilah, Selkie’s mother and BlueSummerStorm’s great-grandmother, have “Blue” in their names. I’ll post when we know, and have better pictures, but for now I’m going to curl up on the couch, nurse my Versed headache, and catch my breath! Just think, we’ll be doing this again next year at this time . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Spot of Sunshine

I realized this morning that the new doe hasn’t really had any sun. She lives with Sarabi in the kidding stall, which is a dark corner in the little barn. Plus, I want Sarabi to get used to being away from her off and on. So we brought her inside with a preemie diaper on for awhile this morning. Sarabi howled, but there you have it.

We do have a name for her now. Enjoying a spot of sunshine, Herb of Grace Butternut Rue



The Last Bottle

The time came for Tarquin last night. The last bottle. He is just turned 6 1/2, who would have imagined all of this? He is still in “food therapy” but we will be discontinuing that when this round of insurance funding runs out; it hasn’t been very successful. What is done there is all stuff we can and do do at home. Star charts, small rewards for number of bites, etc. We’re left where we started. Not only does he have few foods that he’s not allergic to, but what is different for Tarquin is that he has so many aversions. We are unable to trial foods in the first place because, as he always says, “Ewwww! That would taste like duck poop!!!!" Guess we shouldn’t have fed him that duck poop, eh? Sigh.

So this is what he currently can eat, first foods, then spices:

Potatoes, rice, sunbutter (although he hates it and this is one he’ll only eat under duress), apples/applesauce, turkey, grapes, carrots, and onions.

Spices/oils are: coconut, olive, sunflower, and palm oils. Salt, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, garlic powder, and baking powder (aluminum free).

That is the entire list of foods he can and will eat. It is a lot longer than the list Araminta and Lucinda started with, but at least they had something from every major food category! You will note no green vegetables, and like the girls, no source of calcium. The girls get their calcium through fortified hemp milk, and Tarquin is safe for that as well but hates the taste.

Quite to my relief, we have found a safe children’s multivitamin. It is expensive, and he’ll only eat the red ones (another eyeroll here), but wow, that takes an edge off the panic I was feeling over the last of the formula!



So that’s an update on Tarquin’s diet. Still not really getting anywhere, and honestly, all he wants to eat is potatoes, everything else involves coercion of some sort. If you look at the list of his foods, one thing you might notice is that all of the flavors are bland. He never did transition in toddlerhood to Neocate’s flavored allergenic liquid diets. The girls drank something that at the time was called EO-28, now called “Splash” and in boxes that look like juice boxes and in various flavors. We tried several times when he was younger, and also tried the chocolate formula the company makes, but he always refused the flavored stuff. The formula he drinks is just . . . formula flavored. So for the first five years of his life he just had formula (well, and nursing the first six months until he was too flared to continue) and he’s never switched on the mental switch to accepting flavors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Little Un-Named Doe

The first goat to bear our herd name, “Herb of Grace”, arrived last night safe and sound. One big girl – didn’t get a weight last night, but at twelve hours old she weighs 3.9 pounds. We don’t have a name for her yet, but we do have a few pictures off the phone. She’s nursing well, even though Sarabi works against it – Sarabi still believes firmly that the job of a new mother is to LICK your baby. For twelve plus hours. No baby, you can’t nurse, I must LICK YOU CONTINUALLY.


Of course, it was in the low 30’s out there last night, so the continual re-wetting of the goat isn’t the smartest thing in the world, but then, Sarabi was never the brains of our barn, that would be Selkie.


Who, by the way, is enraged by being kept apart from the new baby goat who she seems to think is partly her property. I’m seriously worried she’s going to take down part of the fence trying to get at the baby. I saw her go outside the barn this morning and sniff and examine the wall on the other side of where the baby is, looking for a possible way in. Hopefully she’ll have one of her own soon, poor thing.


Here’s the new little girl, first pic right after birth and the second two this morning when she’s 12 hours old (she has blue eyes – it’s too dark in that corner of the barn to get good pictures with a phone):







Tuesday, January 22, 2013

While We're All Waiting

And yes indeed, we are still waiting, although Sarabi finally has signs that are supposed to mean she'll deliver within 24 hours (I think we can all see how well "supposed to" means with Sarabi . . .). From what I understand, this pretty much means she'll always go at day 155 or so. At least next time we'll know!

As I mentioned a long time ago, we try to follow organic practices in crop and stock around here to the extent possible. It's what the garden and livestock are all about. Could we be certified organic? No. For example, the main support beams of our barnlet are pressure treated wood, not allowed. I have given the goats de-worming medicine rather than lose a goat. But by and large, it's a pretty organic operation here. We are super blessed to have a tiny feed store five blocks away from our house that has an owner who is passionate about organic, non-GMO feed and supplements - and his prices are equivalent to conventional feed prices. I was in there yesterday and asked him why he didn't use a popular brand of organic feed that our health food store carries, and wow, he had an enlightening reply and blew me away with the depth of research he'd done on each ingredient. I'd just read the label and assumed it was OK, though I never used their poultry feed. It's a real blessing that he's there, so convenient, because trust me we don't live in the sort of neighborhood to carry organic anything. We're more of a pawn-shop, used tires, car wash, meth lab kind of neighborhood :-).

Anyway, looking into what I would use for milking paraphernalia, I realized the "bag balm" that the farmers of my youth used (and we used to use on our hands), while relatively innocuous as these things go, has a couple of ingredients I'd rather not get into our milk supply. Plus, I've always personally had a problem with lanolin, which is a big ingredient in conventional bag balms. I'm also trying to switch away from detergents here in favor of soaps (for my small allergic people), so the commercial teat dips/sprays were also problematic.

Of course, there's the internet!

It's kind of fun that the recipe I ended up using for udder balm, found here, is relatively similar to the spoon oil I've been rubbing into our new kitchen countertops. I used tea tree oil, lavendar oil, and peppermint oil in this - all of the girls in the house rubbed it into our hands, and it's quite nummy. The oils used are all oils that are non-allergenic in our household: coconut, shea, olive, and beeswax.

The teat spray is a recipe found here and the goal is, along with other cleanliness measures, that the goats will remain infection free and we will have clean milk (as we will be drinking it raw). We test yearly for the diseases that are passed to humans, and one benefit to living in suburbia is that goat diseases that can live in soil aren't likely to be harbored here.

Well, out to feed the animals. The ducks are moulting (one of them looks really creepy, like a skeleton, because she's lost so many feathers) so it looks like there was a pillow fight out there. I've been fooled a couple of times looking out the kitchen window into thinking we've had snow!

Hopefully you can watch this space tomorrow for baby pics!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


You might have been checking the blog, thinking, “Why surely there are cute little kids over at Shady Fifth by now!”

Yeah, you’d think, right?

Sarabi is overdue now, but I’m reassured by others that we don’t need to call in a vet until day 156 or so, and we’re on day 151 around here.

Opinions around here vary from “she doesn’t want to be a mother” to “they’re conspiring to deliver at exactly the same time so you don’t know what to do about it”. Boy, is she crabby. She comes up and demands attention, but anything I do, she skitters away from. Scratch behind her ears? Nope. Scritch in her favorite spot above her tail? No. But just let Selkie approach for a little affection and Sarabi headbutts her halfway across the yard. Although I must sheepishly admit to not being the sweetest person when overdue with babies, myself.

Eventually there will be kids on the ground, but for now might I just say that the middle-of-the-night barnlet checks in the 20 degree weather are getting a bit old? Yawwwnnnn.

CAM00377 Sarabi’s kid(s): “But it’s WARM in here!”

CAM00378Selkie still barely looks pregnant, but she’s due soon as well.

You know what Gareth just noticed while I was composing this blog post? Sarabi has Mickey Mouse on her back! I’ll have to run out and check if that is just an odd camera angle or something. Do you see it? Mickey is black and over her shoulders and has a white mouth. Hmmm, might give interesting options for baby names!

Editing after a trip to check for impending signs of labor (yeah, right . . . ): It was just the camera angle that gave Sarabi a Mickey Mouse on her back. In "real life" you don't see it at all. Bummer! She was one of triplets, two boys and a girl, and one of her brothers was all black with a perfect white Nike swoosh on the side of his face. I was thinking perhaps all three had iconic branding (the other boy perhaps had golden arches not visible in his baby picture).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hog Fuel and a Thought from NPR

I’ve whined and complained quite a bit about the mud, mud, mud mud in the back yard. When we set up the goat area initially, we used pine shavings in the barn and extended that out to the goat yard. The shavings quickly became a muddy boggy mess, though, so we took that up and have just gone through the wet and dry cycles. It only became a big issue recently. My “milking parlor” is a covered area against the house with a roof and a concrete floor and space for the milkstand, but the goats need to walk to it, and that was through the bog, which only will get worse as we have many more rainy months ahead.

As I mentioned, we were having to DRAG them by the leash to the stand. This wasn’t good for anyone, but they just hated to walk through that mud. And I started picturing babies belly-deep in it.

Quite fortunately, clicking links looking for something else entirely, I read a blog entry of a woman who lives not too far away and has backyard goats in suburbia. She has on her ground something I’d never ever heard of: hog fuel (link takes you to her blog post). I asked in her comment section where to find it, did she still like it, was it expensive . . . she was gracious and generous in sharing, and so the Patriarch rented a trailer and brought a trailer-load of hog fuel home. Gareth, Nigel and I were spreading it into the darkness and had excellent timing, because that night the temperature went into the 20s. I really shudder to imagine skating the pregnant goats across frozen mud.



014  Closer Up

This is such wonderful, amazing stuff. It smells delicious, like cedar, and entirely covers the mud. After weeks and months of needing to pick our way mincing step by mincing step, oh glorious day to walk confidently through the yard! And the goats are sooooo happy about this, as well. The last couple of days have been rain-free and they’ve been actually running around the yard.

Which thought brings me to a little NPR bit I heard the other day whilst stuck in a traffic jam, about some interesting research. It seems that no matter what our age, we think that we’ve pretty much stabilized in who we are. The twenty year old, the fifty year old, the seventy year old, we all think that. And it’s not true, not at any age. Strangely, we look back a decade and see how we have changed, but our belief is that that was the change that brought us to today, which is pretty much it. Done now. The author of the study said this:

"I have this deep sense that although I will physically age — I'll have even less hair than I do and probably a few more pounds — that by and large the core of me, my identity, my values, my personality, my deepest preferences, are not going to change from here on out," says Gilbert, who is 55.

I was ruminating on this thought as I enthused on and on about the hog fuel after it was laid. Couldn’t have seen that one coming.

If you’d like to read that whole bit at NPR, you can read it here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


My main Christmas present this year was a picture on the Patriarch’s phone of a shopping cart with boards, which he said would become a milking stand “in a couple of weeks”. Well, earlier this week, guess what showed up in our living room?

Another huge thank-you to our friend Mr. J and also to his family, who loaned him to this project for an entire one of their Christmas vacation days.

I used the spoon oil to water-resist the open wood portions, and where siding had been used, painted and polyurethaned. Here it is!



I spent this afternoon getting the “milk parlor” cleaned up and ready. The countdown is on: Sarabi’s official due date is January 18th, but Nigerians usually don’t go quite as long as other breeds. The website of the farm our girls came from says that day 148 is typical for them, which would be January 16th. And day 145 is a timeframe I see a lot for Nigerians, as well, which would put her at January 13th, which is one week away.

Selkie, who you might remember was maybe pregnant, is now forming an udder and today a little hoof kept kicking me when I felt Selkie’s belly. So she is due, by the above method of dates, January 28th/26th/23rd. She is still so small I don’t see how she can be carrying any more than one kid in there. Here they are from the top this week, see if you see any change from my last top-shots:


Getting exciting! 

Best Facebook Event Decline Ever

Why yes, yes, it is quarter-til-four-am, thanks for inquiring. Insomnia. Quite a treat.

Anyway, since I'm up, thought I'd share. You know how someone from your way-back-past pops into your head, and you think, "Hey, I should see if they're on Facebook"? I had a friend way back who has a public page and had put out an invite. I thought, "Hmm, I should look through the responses to see if any of our mutual friends are there". This is how I discovered the Best Facebook Event Decline Ever. Feel free to use it next time you need to decline an invite, or perhaps write a novel.

"Sadly enough, I will be crowning my successor on this night..."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This is a Bit Embarrassing!

A hint that your gluten free transition is not quite as complete as you'd thought: You're sitting talking with the GI doc, who tells you he'd like to do a test over at Nuclear Medicine where you eat a fried egg sandwich containing radioactive ingredients so they can scan the stomach, and your first (excited, cheerful) thought is, "Oh BOY!!! A sandwich!!!!"


I'll get the recipe for y'all if you beg. I'm sure it's the Olde Fashioned Nuclear Fried Egg Sandwich, just like Grandma used to make!